Review: Window Of Hope
The seasons parade relentlessly past Max's window of confinement as do her opportunities to play with others her own age. Yet Max never appears overtly forlorn. Her large liquid eyes reflect a subdued resignation, an acceptance of things as they are for they feel 'safe and comfortable, ...right'.
Then one day a visitor appears at Max's window, a small fragile thing with a vibrant red beak and perky nature. At first, because the small bird only has one leg, Max presumes it is broken, perhaps like her. But as is often the way with wild creatures, the bird spares little time or thought on its apparent deficiencies rather it concentrates on what it does best; it twitters and whistles and hops and bobs, sharing Max's musical moments with her, forcing giggles from her and an exuberance she had long ago abandoned.
The bird's enchanted warbling unleashes an understanding in Max and bathes her with warm happiness and a confidence to face her days in a different way to before, a way that is better and just as 'right'.
I say this with each subsequent publication of his, but it feels like Vescio has really hit his stride with, Window of Hope. His sparse narrative sings with simplicity and refined restraint yet is powerful and packed with meaning. There is never a need to spell out Max's disability; her emotional entrapment, ably told in a handful of words, could be viewed as as much as her physical impediment as her inability to run and skip. She is never portrayed as morose or depressed yet her reluctance to venture outside of her comfort zone is beautifully emphasised by Houghton's haunting illustrations.
Muted tones of teals and greys soften light and intone isolation. This ethereal palette choice heightens flash points of interest: Max's flowing flame-coloured hair, the bird's beak, a flying kite and snaking garden hose - all enflamed with the promise of love and ... hope. All echoed in Max's doleful eyes that draw the reader's attention no matter where she is looking.
This is a story of searching, finding the courage to set hope free (so shown when Max releases her dreams as a rainbow of paper planes) and accepting that possibilities and joy are not exclusive; anyone can share them, no matter their circumstance.
Window of Hope is a flawless marriage of perspectives, words and colours that belies description and delivers on its promise of hope in the most exquisite, heart-swelling way. Highly recommended.
Title: Window of Hope
Author: Robert Vescio
Illustrator: Demelsa Haughton
Publisher: Little Pink Dog Books , $24.95
Publication Date: July 2019
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book
Buy the Book: Boomerang Books, Little Pink Dog Books